In one of the final photos taken of Lucetta Howard of Uxbridge, Ont., she perches on a wrought iron chair carried by two hardy-looking grandsons. The
shot was taken at her granddaughter’s wedding reception. Lucetta
beams, as grandmothers do, clearly
revelling in the moment and the
attention of her grandsons who
carried her – seated on this chair –
wherever she wanted to go throughout this great family celebration.
Her life was about to end. She
knew that. She died six weeks later,
at 92, of bone cancer.
Lucetta loved birds and was a
passionate gardener. The family set
up a hospital bed in the living room,
with a view of the birds and the
“My mom did not want to go to
the hospital. She decided to stop all
her meds. She died on a Tuesday
morning,” remembers her daughter
Cathy Bacon. She slipped away in
the few moments it took for Bacon
to step out of the room. “My prayer
had been that she would go gently
into the arms of Jesus,” says Bacon.
And she did.
Lucetta died at home, cared for
by Bacon and a caregiving team
that included her doctor, nurses,
community care workers and of
course other family members who
took turns and relieved her daughter from her bedside vigil.
The final weeks of Lucetta’s life
were an expression of palliative
care done well. Lucetta was able to
die peacefully, almost pain-free,
and the family received the support
they needed from the broader
medical and spiritual community.
My afternoon with Cathy Bacon
is just weeks after the Supreme
Court of Canada struck down the
ban on physician-assisted suicide. I
am curious what she thinks, having
now walked beside both her par-
ents in their dying days, at their
bedside in their last moments.
Like many caring Canadians she
finds the issue complicated. Per-
plexing. “I don’t know that unless
you’re in it, that you can say it’s
wrong,” she admits. “As a Christian
I know that’s probably not the right
thing to say,” she quickly adds.
I’m glad she is so honest.
This is a thoughtful woman trying to figure out this question of
how we are to die in Canada – and
what compassion in the last of our
days looks like.
BACON IS not alone in her mixed
feelings about the new reality of
euthanasia and physician-assisted
suicide in Canada. In fact, 77 per
cent of Canadians support physician-assisted death, according to
the most recent poll.
The response from Canadian
churches in general – and not surprisingly – has been strongly critical of the Supreme Court’s move to
no need for
By Karen Stiller